Women's World Cup: Bay Area's Tierna Davidson shines for USWNT vs. Chile


Women's World Cup: Bay Area's Tierna Davidson shines for USWNT vs. Chile

The United States Women's National Team's youngest player might have been its best Sunday. 

20-year-old Tierna Davidson made her first Women's World Cup start, and assisted twice in the United States' 3-0 win over Chile in Paris. Davidson was one of seven changes to the starting lineup that head coach Jill Ellis made after Tuesday's 13-0 thrashing of Thailand, and the victory clinched the Americans' spot in the Round of 16. 

Davidson, a Menlo Park native who attended Sacred Heart Preparatory (Atherton) and Stanford, started at left back in the Group F clash. Normally a central defender, Davidson was on corner-kick duty Sunday as a fullback. She delivered two pinpoint, left-footed crosses 10 minutes apart in the first half, setting up Julie Ertz and Carli Lloyd's headers.

Davidson, who left Stanford with a year of eligibility to become the No. 1 pick (Chicago Red Stars) in January's NWSL draft, said after the game that taking corners didn't necessarily come naturally. 

“I was a little bit unsure exactly because I hadn’t taken a corner kick since September, so I was like, ‘Oh, I’ll just put it up there for Carli and she will get her head on there, put it in there for [Ertz] and she’ll get her head on it,’” Davidson told Pro Soccer USA's Ashley Scoby. “Big credit to them, because we have such fantastic aerial presence and they really commit to what they do. So me putting it just outside the goalkeeper’s range was all I really had to do for them to score.”

Although she is the USWNT's youngest player, Davidson has been a fixture in Ellis' side when healthy. Davidson missed World Cup qualifying with a left ankle injury, but started 12 games in 2018. She played all 90 minutes in each of her first five caps, becoming the first to do so since Julie Foudy in 1994. 

On Sunday, Davidson became the youngest player to start for the USWNT at a World Cup since 1995, as well as the youngest defender ever, according to TruMedia Networks' Paul Carr. Central defender Becky Sauerbrunn, who has over 100 more caps than Davidson, told reporters in Paris that Davidson's potential is nearly limitless. 

Sauerbrunn and Abby Dahlkemper -- another Sacred Heart alum -- likely remain locks for Ellis in central defense, but Davidson's performance might have given Ellis something to ponder with regards to her back line. Crystal Dunn, who plays forward for the NWSL's North Carolina Courage, started at left back against Thailand. Dunn offers more in attack than Davidson, but the 20-year-old's defensive instincts might be needed as the Americans face stiffer competition deeper in the tournament.

Ellis, for her part, was impressed by Davidson's performance in the attacking third. 

“I mean, those balls she played in – she’s got one of the sweetest left foots I’ve ever seen,” Ellis told Scoby. “I think her distribution on the ball – she can open up a game with the left foot and obviously her set pieces.”

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Thursday's Group F finale against Sweden will be the USWNT's first real test of the tournament. Winning Group F would likely eventually set up a quarterfinals matchup with host France, but playing Canada -- second place in Group E faces second place in Group F -- in the Round of 16 still sets up a difficult path through the knockout stages. 

Ellis' Thursday lineup and eventual substitutions, then, should provide some insight into her thinking ahead of the knockout stages. With Sunday's two-assist performance, Davidson certainly made a strong case for herself.

Premier League set to restart play from coronavirus pause on June 17


Premier League set to restart play from coronavirus pause on June 17

The Premier League is set to restart.

On Thursday, shareholders gave "Project Restart" the green light for play to start back up June 17. According to ESPN's James Olley, there will be two games on June 17, with Manchester City facing Arsenal and Sheffield United hosting Aston Villa. That will bring all clubs to 29 matches played, with the remaining 90 games left on the slate to start up the following weekend.

The Premier League's goal is to have all league games finished by Aug. 1 with the FA Cup to be complete with the final to be played on Aug. 8. As for the remaining Champions League and Europa League games, those also are slated to be completed if the pandemic calms down to allow international travel.

According to Olley, a number of clubs asked for more time to ramp up training before the restart given contact training was just given the OK on Wednesday. But the desire for a sooner restart and pressure from UEFA to complete all domestic matches by August had the league settle on June 17.

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The Premier League has had 12 positive coronavirus tests through the first three rounds. When the league restarts, testing capacity will be increased to 50 to 60 tests per club. Anyone testing positive must self-isolate for seven days.

The league suspended play March 13. One hundred days will have passed by the time the league starts back up June 17.

Premier League approves contact training as Project Restart hits Phase 2


Premier League approves contact training as Project Restart hits Phase 2

The Premier League took another step toward its restart Wednesday, as all 20 clubs voted unanimously to allow contact training as the league enters Phase 2 of Project Restart.

"Premier League shareholders today voted unanimously to resume contact training -- marking another step towards restarting the Premier League season, when safe to do so," the league said in a statement. "Squads are now able to train as a group and engage in tackling while minimising any unnecessary close contact."

"The Premier League's priority is the health and wellbeing of all participants. Strict medical protocols are in place to ensure the training ground is the safest environment possible and players and staff will continue to be tested for COVID-19 twice a week.

"Stage Two of the Return to Training protocol has been agreed following consultation with clubs, players, managers, the PFA (Professional Footballers' Association), the LMA (League Managers' Association) and the Government. Discussions are ongoing as work continues towards resuming the season when conditions allow."

The shareholders will meet again Thursday to discuss issues related to the restart, including a start date, television schedules and more, according to ESPN"s James Olley. Sources told ESPN that the June 12 return date now is viewed as too soon for players to build up their conditioning and that June 19 or June 26 is more likely.

The Premier League now has had 12 positive coronavirus (COVID-19) tests after the third round of testing, the league announced Wednesday.

All players and staff will be tested twice a week as the training continues, and the league will have discussions on contingency plans on what to do should issues arise.

[RELATED: What PL's positive coronavirus tests mean for season restart]

Some players have decided not to return to their clubs due to the risk of contracting the virus, including Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante.

The UK government is supportive of the effort for the Premier League to restart its season in a safe way following the guidance of public health officials. Play has been suspended since March 13.